Game Report: Cardinals 8, Pirates 7

By Rob Rains

It wasn’t the start Adam Wainwright or the Cardinals wanted or hoped for on Monday night, but there were enough positives to convince him that it was a start.

Most importantly, even if it wasn’t a win for Wainwright, it was a win for the Cardinals thanks to a three-run homer by Matt Adams in the eighth inning, overcoming a 6-4 deficit.

The Cardinals moved to just 3 ½ games behind the Cubs in the NL Central, who lost to the Brewers on Monday night. They also retained their hold on the second wild-card spot, behind Milwaukee.

Wainwright was making his first start in the majors since May 13 and his first at Busch Stadium since April 11. He gave up two homers, accounting for three of the four runs he allowed, struck out three and didn’t walk a batter.

Most of the encouragement came after he shook off some of the rust. Wainwright retired the last eight hitters he faced.

“It’s cool to be back,” Wainwright said. “Now I’ve got to go out and execute a lot better than I did today. I love being out there, now I just have to pitch better.

“I left a lot of balls in the middle of the plate, especially in that one inning (the third)."

The long layoff, as he recovered from his latest elbow injury, made this an emotional return for Wainwright.

“I got emotional stretching before the game before I even went outside,” Wainwright said. “I pulled everybody who did so much to get me back and gave them a big hug and told them thank you.”

Manager Mike Shildt said Wainwright did enough to earn another start; when is still to be determined.

“This was a very encouraging night for Adam,” Shildt said. “He’s earned the opportunity to go again.”

Here is how the game broke down:

At the plate: The Cardinals scored their first four runs in the fourth inning, rallying from the 4-0 deficit to tie the game. Matt Carpenter led off with a double and later scored on a single by Marcell Ozuna before Paul DeJong doubled in two runs. Harrison Bader capped the inning with a sacrifice fly … In the eighth Carpenter drew a leadoff walk and Jose Martinez singled before Adams unloaded his third home run since rejoining the Cardinals on a 2-1 pitch. Bader added his second sacrifice fly of the night for what turned out to be the run that decided the game.

On the mound: Wainwright allowed a solo homer to Colin Moran in the second and a two-run homer by Starling Marte in the third, when the Pirates had four consecutive hits. He ended up allowing seven hits and threw 81 pitches, 56 for strikes, as he did not walk a batter … Chasen Shreve gave up a homer to Josh Harrison in the fifth and the Pirates scored their other run that inning off Dominic Leone … Tyler Webb and John Brebbia pitched scoreless innings befoee Carlos Martinez earned the save even though he gave up a run in the ninth before DeJong’s strong throw from shortstop accounted for the final out, stranded the tying run at third base.

Key stat: Wainwright’s start was only the 8th in the Cardinals’ 144 games this season started by a pitcher 30 years old or older. Three of those starts have come from Miles Mikolas since he turned 30 on Aug. 23. This was Wainwright’s fourth start of the season and the only other start by a 30-year-old was an emergency start by Tyson Ross, who is 31.

Worth noting: Yadier Molina missed his fourth consecutive game on Monday night but GM Michael Girsch said the hope is he will be able to play at some point this week. “We can’t narrow it down more than that,” Girsch said. Molina strained his hamstring last Wednesday … It was announced Monday that Molina will be one of a team of MLB All-stars who will make a tour of Japan for exhibition games in November … To make room for Wainwright on the 40-man roster, the Cardinals moved Michael Wacha to the 60-day DL and said he will be shut down for the rest of the year because of his oblique injury … Mike Mayers is expected to be activated from the DL on Tuesday.

Looking ahead: Miles Mikolas will get the start in the second game of the series on Tuesday night while Daniel Poncedeleon will start on Wednesday, pushing Austin Gomber back to pitch this weekend against the Dodgers.

Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains


Cardinals Post-Game Audio: Mike Shildt, Matt Adams, Adam Wainwright